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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Soccer trying to move forward

After a team meeting early Monday evening, the Arizona soccer players were stunned by the news that head coach Dan Tobias had decided to step down.

With no earlier indication of the decision after the team’s 2-0 loss against UCLA, players were caught off guard by his announcement.

“”It was just hard. I don’t know what to say, we were all shocked; we didn’t expect it at all,”” said redshirt senior Devon Wharf. “”It’s really tough because he gave me an opportunity that others didn’t give me.””

Tobias’ decision to step down raised many questions regarding the future of UA soccer — questions that were left unanswered.

Who will be the next coach?

Will the assistants be back?

Will players leave?

As questions linger around the future of the program, the members of the team are trying to stay in the moment.

“”Right now, I’m not trying to focus on next year. There is still a lot up in the air about player personnel,”” said redshirt junior Macke Mutz. “”We’re just trying to stay positive and finish the season on a high note.””

As many questions will probably go unanswered until the end of the season, the Wildcats are trying to deal with their situation and focus on the remaining seven games of the season.

“”We were surprised, but our reaction was that we need to move forward and go with what we’ve been given,”” said Mutz. “”We’re sad to see Dan go, we respect what he did for this program but we still have seven games and we want to keep our focus on the season.””

Assistants Lisa Oyen and John Galas have been named co-interim head coaches, and the team appears to be comfortable with the pair taking on the new role.

“”They’re great. I wouldn’t even call them assistant coaches because from day one it felt like all three coaches were head coaches,”” Wharf said. “”John would work with the goalkeepers and Lisa would split the field players with Dan. It definitely was a team effort coaching-wise.””

The future of both co-interim head coaches is up in the air depending on who is named the next head coach, but both remain focused on the task at hand.

“”We’re focusing on these girls, this program and preparing them for Friday,”” Galas said. “”We’re not looking past tomorrow, that’s our mentality right now. We will discuss the future of our roles in this program at the appropriate time, but right now our focus is solely on these girls.””

Oyen was named associate head coach before the beginning of the season and took on a larger role in practices even before Tobias decided to step down.

Oyen perhaps knew Tobias better than anyone in the program, working as an assistant under him for eight and a half years after following him to Arizona from Washington State. She acknowledged it was tough on her to see him leave.

“”I didn’t see it coming,”” she said. “”He is someone I have a ton of respect for and have worked with for a variety of years on the professional level so it is difficult.””

Though both Galas and Oyen will have new roles as co-interim head coaches, players shouldn’t expect to see any drastic changes to how they move forward the rest of the season.

“”We are familiar with the personalities and abilities of the group, so there is no need to make changes because there is a good foundation in place,”” Oyen said. “”We’ve seen where the kids are successful so we will focus on that so we can find success with them.””

Though Tobias has stepped down from his position, the assistants won’t hesitate to ask him for advice if they need it.

“”He’s been in this coaching profession for a long time and has a wealth of knowledge and if (Oyen) and I need to pick his brain we certainly have that resource,”” Galas said. “”Just because he stepped down for personal reasons doesn’t mean he’s not a part of our lives and community.””

What happens next season?

Athletic Director Jim Livengood said Wednesday that the team will not begin its coaching search until after the soccer season comes to a close.

“”Right now we’re not in the mode to look for a head coach,”” Livengood said. “”Our job right now is to do the very best job in these last seven games for our gals.””

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